Krays [1990]

Director Peter Medak's gritty voyage into the world of organized crime in 1960s London is a disturbing character study of the two most frightening and influential gangsters to ever come out of England, Ronnie and Reggie Kray. The ingenious casting of former pop icons Gary and Martin Kemp (of Spandau Ballet) as the powerful Kray brothers works well, establishing an eerie, unspoken connection between the two that is unsettling and extremely daunting. One scene in particular epitomizes that bond: Ronnie and Reggie come face to face in a boxing ring, each daring the other through snarls and psychopathic grins to knock the other down. Ringside spectators can't really understand the brothers' confrontation, but in the Krays' eyes we can see their power and unspoken resolve, as well as their sense of themselves as existing in an upper echelon of strength and sheer will that clearly separates them from the onlookers. It's this intense self-confidence that enables the Krays to rise from working-class obscurity to the highest ranks of organized crime. The Kemp boys also do a splendid job in portraying the inherent instability associated with the Krays. This true story follows the brothers from childhood through their rise and then fall from grace, as their personal lives and violent natures culminate in two murder charges, resulting in 30 years of imprisonment. Beyond its folkloric power, The Krays also captures a post-World War II London still recovering from the war's devastation, dismissing the mythos of the Swinging '60s people so fervently relate to this period. --Jeremy Storey

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